A senior Chinese official demanded Tuesday that foreign embassies, especially the US, stop issuing air pollution readings within the country.
Similar to the monitoring point used on the roof of the US embassy, which releases hourly air-quality data, the US consulates in Shanghai and the southern city of Guangzhou provide a similar service. Some, however, argue that the monitoring point is “unscientific.” Deputy Environment Minister Qu Xiaoqing went as far as saying that the readings were even illegal and violate diplomatic conventions.
"According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations ... foreign diplomats are required to respect and follow local laws and cannot interfere in internal affairs," Wu told a news conference. "China's air quality monitoring and information release involve the public interest and are up to the government. Foreign consulates in China taking it on themselves to monitor air quality and release the information online not only goes against the spirit of the Vienna Convention ... it also contravenes relevant environmental protection rules."
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Although Wu acknowledged the poor state of China's air quality and overall environmental situation, he does not support collecting and releasing the readings over the internet.
But at least China is working on it. After setting record high carbon emissions last year, China—the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide to begin with—has announced plans to invest $27 billion this year to promote energy conservation, emission reductions and renewable energy.
Some of those initiatives will also include the promotion of energy-saving products, solar and wind power and the development of renewable energy and hybrid cars, according to the country's finance ministry.
A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that China's carbon emissions hit their highest ever recorded level in 2011, but that its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, or its carbon intensity, fell by 15 percent between 2005 and 2011. Looking ahead, China is targeting a cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 40-45 percent by 2020, boosting its use of renewables to 15 percent of its overall energy in that same time frame.